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Remembering Tina Turner

An appreciation

Tanya Hart
Remembering Tina Turner

Accolades continue to pour in from all parts of the globe honoring the late great Tina Turner, who after a long illness died May 24 at age 83 at her home near Zurich, Switzerland.

Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee on Nov. 26, 1939, to parents who never showed her love, as she recounted in her memoir. Despite her early hardships, Turner’s musical career spanned almost seven decades. She sold more than 200 million records worldwide and earned eight Grammy Awards and 25 nominations. She also received three Grammy Hall of Fame Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Turner is a Kennedy Center Honors recipient and a two-time inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — with Ike Turner in 1991 and as a solo artist in 2021. She was also the first woman and first Black artist to be on the cover of ”Rolling Stone” magazine.

Her rise to fame from the “Chitlin’ Circuit” with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue to a global rock goddess has been well documented. Angela Bassett earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tina Turner in 1993’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” Bassett wrote on Instagram, “How do we say farewell to a woman who owned her pain and trauma and used it as a means to help change the world? … Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion and freedom should look like.”

Turner’s long-time friend and fellow music icon Cher told MSNBC following Turner’s death that she got to catch up with her old friend at her home in Switzerland, and said the singer “was really happy” despite being “really sick.”

The Ike and Tina Turner Revue played at the Boston Arena on Oct. 2, 1970. In the 80s, during her first solo tour, “Private Dancer,” I interviewed Turner for my show “Coming Together.” She spoke candidly of the horrors of physical and mental abuse at the hands of Ike Turner. Even then, it was clear Turner would use her past to elevate others.

Turner’s global reach also touched Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where her music has been honored and celebrated over the years. She loved giving back to young people and was a co-founder and financial supporter of Beyond Music, a global organization dedicated to connecting professional musicians, composers, singers and songwriters to collaborate and inspire. Every year, the group holds a competition that results in a professionally recorded album based on a theme.

Paola Munda, a winner of that competition, is now a vocal instructor at Berklee and a member of the organization. Munda says that Turner was always behind which songs were chosen and the overall production of the album.

“Her story is just so inspiring and encouraging, not only for her generation, but I think her legacy will live throughout the centuries,” Munda said.

Enrique Gonzalez Müller, an associate professor for Berklee’s music production and engineering department and Berklee Online, engineered the No. 1 hit “Teach Me Again” by Tina Turner and Elisa. He recalled the whirlwind experience of getting the call to record with Turner at her home. The assignment was to record Turner’s audio, edit it and shoot a music video to the music track within two hours. Müller said he felt Turner was the youngest, most energetic and joyful person in the room, despite being everyone’s elder.

That joy came much later in life for Turner, when she married Erwin Bach. Theirs was a love story the younger Tina would not have believed possible. They met in the mid-1980s, when she flew to Germany for a record promotion and he picked her up at the airport. He was more than a decade younger than her and had “the prettiest face,” she said of him in the HBO documentary.

The attraction was mutual. After a 27-year relationship, they wed in 2013, exchanging vows at a civil ceremony in Switzerland.

“It’s that happiness that people talk about,” Turner told the press at the time, “when you wish for nothing, when you can finally take a deep breath and say, ‘Everything is good.’”

Bach was by her side when she made her transition. He is set to inherit nearly half her estimated $250 million fortune.

By all standards, Tina Turner was “Simply the Best.”

Tanya Hart hosts “Hollywood Live” and “Hollywood Live Extra” on American Urban Networks.

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